In essence, I now feel exactly what Kulthau (2004) spoke about in her identification of the Affective stages that accompanied a journey from questioning to understanding. At the outset, my initiation, I thought that information was all encompassing. I believed that there was simply no way that anyone could purport to be a specialist in this field. I was vague, I was aimless, but I was becoming excited by the possibility that I could become better.
I moved with optimism into the new school term. Reading about the changing nature of the library in texts like Thomas Frey’s “The Future of Libraries” helped me to realise that the profession I was working in was one that held such importance for communities. I saw that the role of the TL was not just to stand and shush people, but to provide access to the collective knowledge and imaginings of the world. While this may sound like hyperbole, many groups that have defined the role of the TL and their library have shown the scope of this profession to be very wide indeed. Valenza (2010) expresses her views that the TLs role has expanded far beyond providing access to the myriad of resources; the role now encompasses the creation of new materials. From software to hardware, from web 2.0 to 3.0, the TL was now a hub in the great spinning mass of information. By providing resources and skills that enable students to self-publish, the TL could become the catalyst for creativity in every medium imaginable.
I believe it was the exploration of that idea of “every medium imaginable”, and the realisation that it was a far bigger idea than I could currently handle, that led me to the next step. I felt that this position would bury me under an insurmountable heap of new technologies and information. I had arrived at the Affective stage Kulthau identifies as being characterised by confusion, frustration and doubt. Re-reading Kaplan (2007) for the fourth or fifth time, I began to question my suitability for this role. I had only just accepted this role and was still trying to ‘get my head around’ the mass of information and technology skills our students need “to be successful in today’s information economy”. I had become somewhat lost in definitions of what ‘information’ we were supposed to be working with.
As I began to examine the teaching role of the TL (with a million tabs open on my browser) I had difficulty coming to terms with the practicalities of the position. How I was to create a supportive learning environment, beyond the theories, eluded me. I believe that I would benefit from visiting other libraries to see how other members of my profession have approached this. As to the specifics of what the TL actually teaches, I was yet to really come to terms with the scope of information literacy as a practical topic. I believe I limited myself to ‘what’ was to be taught as opposed to ‘how’. I can see, now, that saying, “a TL should cater to the needs of the community” is very shallow. I feel compelled to mention that in my current library community has large amount of ESL students (around 40%) and I have since included a provision in my collection policy that will provide them with access to a large range of visual and multi-modal texts to support their development of visual literacy and individual communication strategies (NSW BOS, 2013).
Moving beyond exploration proved a difficult task. It was the idea of transliteracy, broad it may be, that gave me my ‘thread’ (Kulthau, 2004). The idea of a literacy that combines literacies (Ipri, 2010) made sense to me. I feel like the specific focus on individual literacies (print literacy, numerical literacy, visual literacy, etc.) divides the idea of information literacy into facets that then vie for attention. Many students already show skills in transliteracy. Watching a student skimming several websites for information on Adelie Penguins, I was very happy to see that they eventually chose the National Geographic site to read properly. I asked the student why they had chosen that particular site and they replied, “Everything was right there.”
By presenting students with exemplary resources, like the aforementioned site, I can help them to see the fine details in a well finished information product. Being able to assess information suitability with ease is a skill I’d be happy to leave my students with.
Frey, T. (nd.) The Future of Libraries: Beginning the Great Transformation. Retreived 25th May, 2013, from http://www.davinciinstitute.com/papers/the-future-of-libraries/
Ipri, T. (2010). Introducing transliteracy. College & Research Libraries News, 71(10), 532-567.
Kaplan, A. G. (2007). Is your school librarian ‘highly qualified’? Phi Delta Kappan, 89(4), 300-303. Retrieved 25th May from http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=b8ab3846-706b-4025-b829-7d1ae8024521%40sessionmgr198&vid=2&hid=122
Kulthau, C. (2004) Information Search Process. Retrieved 05/05/13 from: http://comminfo.rutgers.edu/~kuhlthau/information_search_process.htm
New South Wales Board of Studies, (2013) Content and Text Requirements. Retrieved May 24th from http://syllabus.bos.nsw.edu.au/english/english-k10/content-and-text-requirements/
Valenza, J. (2010) Revised Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians. Retrieved 25th May, 2013, from http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/
Over the past 18 months, I feel like there has been a paradigm shift in the way I think about the position of the Teacher Librarian (TL). At the outset, I saw the position as that of an inveterate book-lover that had somehow ‘lucked-in’ to the greatest job imaginable. Some blessed individual with little to do but share a love of reading with the students, put on funny voices during story-time and tape up the occasional ripped page. Through this assignment I have seen the real significance of the role that the TL can play.
For me it is the responsibility for providing users with resources that challenge them that brings home the importance of taking this role seriously. I had never read the School Library Bill of Rights (ASLA, 2012) before this task. That such a short list can entrust to one person, responsibilities as weighty as providing “a background of information which will enable pupils to make intelligent judgements in their daily life”. Being placed in a role where this is only ONE of your tasks is definitely intimidating. A scaffold like the collection management policy has helped me to see that providing this service is but one of the necessary and exciting facets of the position.
As a child of the 1980’s I have wondered at wave after wave of new information technology, so much has arrived that I can see some of my learning community struggling to stay afloat. Looking at articles like Johnson’s (2010) “Libraries for a Post-literate society” has helped me to see that, although the means has changed, the goal is still the same. Literacy, in whatever guise it appears, has always been and will always be our primary concern as TLs.
Being able to set long-term goals for my library has established a sense of ownership. With this assignment, I was able to write a policy that promotes the kind of collaborative environment proposed by Hughes-Hassell and Mancall, (2005, p. 9). Being able to put this into effect will help me to establish that ownership in the whole community. By including collaborating with staff, students and the wider community I can also help to fulfil the libraries purpose of representing perspectives of a huge variety of religious, ethnic and cultural groups and their contributions to our heritage (ASLA, 2012, para. 6).
The “Freedom To Read” statement (ALA, 2004), written in the traditional, blood-stirring style of the USA, is one of the most empowering pieces of doctrine I have read. Before this assignment, I had never read the phrase “No society of free people can flourish that draws up lists of writers to whom it will not listen, whatever they may have to say.” That I am able to write a policy that carries on this ideal makes me genuinely proud. I am proud to one of those that push people to listen.
American Library Association. (1953). The freedom to read statement. Retrieved 22nd May, 2013,from http://www.ala.org/offices/oif/statementspols/ftrstatement/freedomreadstatement
Australian Library and Information Association. (2007). Statement on free access to information. Retrieved 22nd May, 2013, from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/school-library-resource-provision.aspx
Australian School Library Association. (2012). School library bill of rights. Retrieved 21st May, 2013, from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/bill-of-rights.aspx
Hughes-Hassell, S., & Mancall, J. C. (2005). Collection Management for Youth: Responding to the Needs of Learners. Chicago: American Library Association .
Johnson, D. (2010). Libraries for a post-literate society. SCIS Connections, 72, 1-2. Retrieved 24th May, 2013 from http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/scis/connections/libraries_for_a_post-literate_society.html
How does the TL make decisions on how to divide their time?
By deciding what is important right now.
I am the only TL in my school, but I am also the Computer Coordinator. I need to prioritise my tasks and separate my positions if I am to fulfill both my roles. I balance my RFF, admin and computer-coordinator release time to ensure that I am allocating time to the role that has the most pressing needs. If a new unit of work is starting and I need to design a display, collaborate with staff, and build up resources; then this will receive more time than, say, cleaning smartboard filters or de-fragmenting a slow laptop. If a new T4L order has come in then I can dedicate my time to setting up the new computers over, say, checking my junior fiction section for crayon scrawlings. If I can keep abreast of upcoming events in my school I can plan my time accordingly.
The idea of being “unperfect (sic)” is one that is not new to me, but it is one that I have not previously seen written down as a recommendation. Seeing this on “Effective Time Management For Teachers” site gave me some significant food for thought. Trying to dedicate oneself totally to every task is exhausting and impossible to maintain. If there are times when we SHOULD give 100% then, mathematically, there should be times when we need to give 0%; times to say “No”. Defining what YOUR job entails is half the battle when planning your time.
My biggest problem/strength is my enthusiasm for pretty-much everything. I love my job and I find teaching fascinating. the downside of this enthusiasm was finding myself so tired at the end of the day that I would need a regular 4pm nap if planned to have the strength to cook dinner. I learned, recently, that in order to complete my work effectively, I needed to draw up clear lines regarding what was my job, and what was not. I did not do this is in a dramatic, kick in the staff-room door and yell, “Enough is enough!!!” kind of way. I ran one or two staff development sessions on how to solve some of the common staff problems and then I drew up some troubleshooting guides for what to do if these methods failed. It gave the staff new skills, and alleviated some of the pressure I’d placed on myself by over-dedicating.
Has the school in which you work (or know best) developed an information literacy policy?
At this stage we have no such policy in place. I have a sneaking suspicion that the development of one will fall directly to me…
Should this be an essential policy for a 21st century school?
An IL policy is unquestionably essential. There are so many different kinds of information and so many different ways to utilise this information, that a comprehensive IL policy would be needed just to help staff to recognize half of it. A good IL policy gives staff and students the tools to dismantle and ‘unpack’ the mountains of information they view on a regular basis.
How is information literacy approached in your school or experience? Do you see gaps in the approach used, and if so, where?
Information literacy is approached with varying degrees of enthusiasm in my current school. As mentioned above, there is no current IL policy so we’re all, as it were, singing from different sheets. The biggest gap I can see is that the teachers who are educating students in IL are not fully aware they are doing so. Teachers create research tasks that require students to compile and utilize print, video, images and links toward a singular presentation. The students must also learn how to operate the software and systems that will allow them to create their presentation. Then they have to publish and share their work with others. These are rich tasks, they engage students utilizing multiple media types and ICT, they educate students in the meta-literacy needed to identify and manipulate the information they have, but they fail to step back and look at the bigger picture. Teachers teach IL and expect IL, but they never point out the IL is something that can be taught. Teachers can tend to fall into the trap that Thomas (2006) points out; that some educators can mistakenly assume that because they are teaching digital natives, the students should have some latent abilities when it comes to processing complex digital information(in Lorenzo, 2007. p. 3).
How can a transliteracy approach expand the teaching role of the TL beyond the traditional information literacy paradigm?
Approaching information literacy with effective transliteracy as an over-arching goal is very important for a TL. Transliteracy gives students the ability to read and interpret the greater world around them. Considering that traditional literacy was limited to singular forms (eg print or images), this is a huge expansion. If a TL views IL as the ability to read and interpret a static text with images, then they are neglecting social literacy, video literacy, ICT literacy, and literacy in the tools that can manipulate and combine literacies. If we are to expand our roles to become educators and guides of transliteracy then we need to teach students to understand the wider social system they operate in (Ipri, 2010). Transliteracy is ‘big picture’ literacy; literacy in the systems that sit behind what we see on the surface.
We see an ad on a website.
- Traditional literacy tells us this ad is for shoes.
- Visual literacy tells us this ad is designed to be exciting because of the colours used.
- Social literacy tells us that the shoes being advertised are ‘fancy’ shoes that you could wear to a party.
- Numeric literacy tells you that you cannot afford these shoes.
- ICT literacy reminds you that that web ads are created based on personal data that websites collect about you.
- Transliteracy is being able to see this ad, realise all of this simultaneously and then find the shoes for less on another site.
Ipri, T. (2010). Introducing transliteracy. College & Research Libraries News, 71(10), 532-567.
Thomas, W. in Lorenzo, G. (2007) Catalysts for Change: Information Fluency, Web 2.0, Library 2.0, and the New Education Culture, Clarence Center, NY: Lorenzo Associates, Inc., March.
What Does it Mean to be Literate in the 21st Century? (n.d.). Retrieved from You tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Wn0_H-kvxkU